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Buying a Surge Protector

What Is a Surge Protector?

A surge protector generally serves a dual purpose, providing power for multiple electronics, while protecting those electronics from significant voltage surges or spikes. Causes of surges can include lightning and weather, static electricity, utility companies switching power grids, and even high-energy appliances that draw a large amount of electricity automatically cycling on. Keep in mind that even though a power surge protector often looks like a power strip, not every power strip is a surge protector power strip. Even if it includes a cheap circuit breaker, a power strip is still essentially just an extension of your wall outlet, while a surge protector outlet includes a mechanism that either blocks or shorts electric current to keep the voltage at or below a safe threshold to keep your electronics protected.

Though power spikes may not be an everyday event, there is really no reason not to incorporate a surge suppressor into your network to protect your expensive gadgets and electronics from failure. You could think of your surge protector as a warranty for your 4K TV, your computer desktop, and or a subwoofer and other elements comprising your audio/video system, which in fact it is, if you choose a surge protector that comes with a major, big-dollar equipment warranty, as many of them do.

Choosing the Best Surge Protector for You

A power surge protector does more than just provide protection against spikes and surges. Many models also have a USB port, or several, which you can use to charge your other devices. Some surge protectors are designed to safeguard other types of electronic equipment like phone lines, Ethernet, satellite or coaxial cables. But it should be noted that even the best surge protectors will not keep your equipment running during a blackout and will not provide you with extra time to save the work on your computer when the power goes out. For that you need an uninterruptible power supply, often known as a UPS. While damaging surges are much more common than power outages, you can get maximum electrical protection by using both.

When you're selecting the best surge protector or you, you may want to consider what you want it to protect, which will lead you to checking the joules rating. The joules rating tells you how much energy dissipation the protector can handle. Generally, the more joules, the better, but that doesn't mean you should automatically buy the protector with the highest rating. A lower joule rating is fine for smaller items like your phone charger and the lamp on your bedside table, but you may want to get a suppressor with a higher rating if you're using it to protect your expensive custom-built home theater set-up, or if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes or heavy thunderstorms. When you're deciding where you're going to use your surge protector, a secondary consideration could be the cords that will be plugging into it, which may lead you to getting a cord cover for wall so as to better manage those cords and cables to eliminate what could be dangerous clutter.

You'll also want to select a surge protector that offers you the right number of electrical ports, well-placed and not too close together, so you don't have to daisy-chain several surge protectors or power strips, a situation that is highly unlikely to provide you with the protection you want.